Hard drives? No, in the future we will store data in DNA

Some researchers have translated the binary code of digital information into the letters A, C, G and T that make up DNA

It is certainly not news that DNA is capable of containing information about the genetic history of every living being. Imagine if other data could be stored in deoxyribonucleic acid: a movie, a video, an image. Fantasy? Absolutely not.

Researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center have succeeded in performing computer operations using DNA instead of a hard drive. The scientists reportedly were able to write down an 1895 French movie, an Amazon Gift Card and many other data. What is also surprising is the fact that the files on the different DNA strands were recovered without any error. The discovery, published in the scientific journal Science, opens up new frontiers, still little explored. The acid, compared to a normal storage device, has several advantages: it has a greater storage capacity and is more resistant.

The genetic code as the binary code

The Atlantic states that a normal one terabyte hard drive weighs approximately 150 grams. One gram of DNA could hold up to 215,000 more data than the traditional drive. And then, as we know, it is virtually indestructible. A small fragment is enough to know the life, works and miracles of a being who lived billions of years ago. Without venturing into complicated scientific explanations, researchers have translated the binary code of digital information into the genetic code, A, C, G and T, which makes up the DNA. To retrieve the data, it is, then, sufficient to decode the information from genetic to binary.

Other experiments

In fact, this is not the first time such an experiment has been performed. In Britain in 2013, the European Bioinformatics Institute had been able to store some Shakespeare sonnets and other data about the human genome. These new discoveries have also attracted the interest of some hi-tech bigwigs. Microsoft, for example, announced in July 2016, together with scientists from the University of Washington, that it had stored 200 megabytes of data on DNA strands.

Possible applications

What could be the applications of these discoveries? Being small, with large storage capacity and indelible, DNA could be used to save large amounts of data for many, many years. Practically forever.